Jack Harkaway
246 Pages

Jack Harkaway's Boy Tinker Among The Turks - Book Number Fifteen in the Jack Harkaway Series


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Published 08 December 2010
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Jack Harkaway's Boy Tinker Among The Turks, by Bracebridge Hemyng
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Title: Jack Harkaway's Boy Tinker Among The Turks  Book Number Fifteen in the Jack Harkaway Series
Author: Bracebridge Hemyng
Release Date: January 9, 2007 [EBook #20320]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
Produced by Barbara Tozier, Bill Tozier and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
Jack Harkaway's Boy Tinker AMONG THE TURKS.
The matter was not ended here, however.
When they got on board, there was a very serious reception awaiting them.
Their project had been discovered and betrayed to the skipper by some officious noodle, and Captain Willis was not a little alarmed.
The consequences might be very serious.
So the captain had Jack and Harry Girdwood up, and gave them a word or two of a sort.
"We wish to preserve the most friendly relations with the people here, Mr. Harkaway," said he, severely; "and this sort of adventure is not calculated to
achieve our object."
Jack did not attempt to deny what had occurred.
"We have done no harm," he said; "we were simply cruising about when we saw murder done. We arrived too late to prevent it, but Tinker was pleased to take it upon himself to avenge the murdered woman, for a woman it was, as we could tell from her shrieks as the sack went under and stifled them for ever."
The captain was somewhat startled at this.
"Is this true?"
"I would have you know, captain, that I am not in the habit of saying what is not true."
The captain bowed stiffly at young Jack's rebuke.
"I don't wish to imply anything else," he said; "but before you get too high up in the stirrups, young gentleman, remember that I command here. Remember that in your own thirst for excitement, you act in a way likely to compromise me as well as everybody on board. You are not wanting in a proper appreciation of right and wrong. Before you add anything worse to the present discussion, reflect. The injured air which you are pleased to assume is out of place. I leave you to your own reflections, young gentleman."
And so saying, the captain turned away and left him.
Jack's first impulse was to walk after the captain, and fire a parting shot.
But Harry Girdwood's hand arrested him.
"Don't be foolish, Jack," said he.
"Let go, I——"
"Don't be foolish, I say, Jack," persisted Harry Girdwood. "Do you know what you are saying?"
"Are you siding against me?" exclaimed Jack.
"In a general sense I am not against you, but I can't approve of your replies. You had no right to retort, and I shouldn't be a true pal, Jack, if I spoke to your face against my convictions."
Jack sulked for a little time.
And then he did as the captain had advised.
He reflected.
He was very soon led back to the correct train of thought, and being a lad of high moral courage, as well as physically brave, he was not afraid to acknowledge when he was in the wrong.
Harry Girdwood walked a little way off.
Young Jack—dare-devil Jack—coloured up as he walked to Harry and held out his hand.
"Tip us your fin, messmate," he said, with forced gaiety. "You are right, I was
wrong, of course."
He turned off.
"Where are you going?" demanded Harry.
"To the captain."
"What for?"
"To apologise for being insolent."
Off he went.
"Captain Willis."
"Do you want me, Mr. Harkaway?" asked the captain.
"The chief mate was standing by, and Jack did not feel that he had so far offended as to have to expiate his fault in public.
"When you are disengaged, Captain Willis, I would beg the favour of half a word with you."
"Is it urgent, Mr. Harkaway?" he asked.
"I have been refractory, Captain Willis."
A faint smile stole over the captain's face in spite of his endeavour to repress it.
"I will see you below presently," he said to the mate. "Come down to me in a quarter of an hour or so."
"Yes, sir," said the mate.
"Now, Mr. Harkaway, I'm at your service," said Captain Willis, walking forward.
Jack grew rather red in the face at this.
Then he made a plunge, and blurted it all out.
"I have been an idiot, Captain Willis, and I want you to know that I thoroughly appreciate your fairness and high sense of justice."
"Now you are flattering me, Mr. Harkaway," said the captain.
"Captain Willis," said impetuous Jack, "if you call me Mr. Harkaway, I shall think that you are stiff-backed and bear malice."
"What a wild fellow you are," said the captain. "Why, what on earth shall I call you?"
"Jack, sir," returned our hero. "John on Sunday and holidays, if you prefer it, just as a proof that you don't bear any ill feeling to a madman, who has the good luck to have a lucid interval, and to apologise heartily as I do now."
The captain held out his hand.
Jack dropped his into it with a spank, and grasped it warmly.
"Don't say any more on this subject, Mr.—I mean, Jack," said the captain,
smiling, "or you will make me quite uncomfortable."
And so the matter ended.
Jack could not be dull for long together.
He plucked up his old vivacity, and went off to Mr. Figgins' cabin.
"I must go and give the orphan a turn," said he.
Jack found Mr. Figgins in his cabin, squatting on a cushion cross-legged.
Tinker and Bogey were attending upon him.
Since their desperate dive into the sea, and the adventure with the shark, the two darkeys and the orphan had become fast friends.
"Hullo, Mr. Figgins," said Jack, in surprise, "what's going forward now?"
"Only practising Turkish manners and customs," returned Mr. Figgins, quite seriously. "I mean to go ashore to-morrow, and make some acquaintances; I shouldn't like to appear quite strange when I got ashore. When in Rome——"
"You must do as the Romans do," added young Jack.
"Yes; and when in Turkey," said the orphan, "you must——"
"Do as the Turkeys do," concluded Jack.
"Precisely," added the orphan. "That's it."
"You are practising to smoke the long hookah to begin with."
"Yes—no—it's a chibouk," said Mr. Figgins. "That is all you have to know, I believe, to make yourself thoroughly well received in Turkish polite society."
"Every thing," responded Jack, "with a hook—ah."
"I didn't feel very comfortable over it at first," said the orphan, "but I'm getting on now."
"There's one danger you are exposed to on going ashore."
"What's that?"
"Any gentleman having the slightest pretensions to good looks is nearly always
obliged to get married a few times."
Mr. Figgins stared aghast at this.
"A few times?"
"But I'm an orphan."
"No matter; it's a fact, sir, I assure you," said Jack, gravely.
Mr. Figgins looked exceedingly alarmed.
"If I could believe that there was any thing more in that than your joking, Mr. Jack, I should be precious uncomfortable."
"Because my experience of matrimony has been any thing but pleasant already," responded the orphan.
"You have been married, then?" said Jack, in surprise.
"Very moderate that, sir," said Jack. "You are a widower, I suppose, then?"
"I suppose so."
"You are not sure?"
"Not quite."
"Ah, well, then, it won't be so bad for you as it might."
"What won't?"
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Jack," exclaimed the orphan; "my experience of the happy state was any thing but agreeable with one wife. Goodness knows how long I should survive if I had, as you say, several wives."
"Don't worry yourself, Mr. Figgins," said Jack, "but it is just as well to be prepared."
"For what?"
"An emergency. You don't know what might happen to you in this country."
Mr. Figgins looked really very anxious at this.
"I don't well see how they can marry a man."
"That's not the question, Mr. Figgins. You could refuse. It would cost you your life for a certainty."
The orphan nearly rolled off his cushion.
"Fact, I assure you," said Jack, gravely.
"You will be expected to pay a visit of state to the pasha."
"That is the greatest honour on landing for a stranger."
"What is a pasha?"
"The governor of the province, a regular Bung."
"Bluebeard was a pasha, you remember."
"No, no," interrupted the orphan, delighted to show his historical accuracy. "Bluebeard was a bashaw."
"It is the same thing, another way of writing or pronouncing the identical same dignity or rank. Well, you know that polygamy is the pet vice of the followers of Islam."
"Oh, it's dreadful, Jack."
"The greater the man, the greater the polygamist. A pasha has as many wives as he can keep, and more too. The pasha of this province is not rich for his rank, and for his matrimonial proclivities."
"How many wives should you suppose he has?" asked Jack, with an air of deep gravity.
"Don't know," replied the orphan, quietly.
"Ninety-eight living."
Mr. Figgins jumped up and dropped his chibouk.
"A fact," asserted Jack, with gravity.
"Why, the man must be a regular Bluebeard."
"You've hit it, sir," responded Jack; "that's the sort of man he is."
"Well, that is all very well for the Turks and for these old sinners the pashas, but I am an Englishman."
"This is the way it will most likely be done," continued Jack. "On your presentation to his excellency the pasha, you are expected to make some present. The pasha makes a return visit of ceremony, and leaves behind him some solid evidence of his liberality."
"Well, but the very highest compliment that a pasha can pay you is to leave you
one of his wives. He generally makes it an old stock-keeper, something that has been a good thirty years or so in the seraglio."
Mr. Figgins took the liveliest interest in this narrative.
He was growing rapidly convinced of the truth of Jack's descriptions of these singular manners and customs of the country in which they were.
Yet he eyed Jack as one who has a lingering doubt.
"Ahem!" said Mr. Figgins, "I don't think that I shall join you on your visit ashore in the morning."
"We'll see in the morning," said Jack; "it's a pity to put off your trip for the sake of such a trifling danger as that of having a wife or so given to you."
"It's no use," said Mr. Figgins, "my mind is fully made up; I shall not visit the pasha."
"It will be taken as a grave insult to go ashore without paying your respects to his excellency."
"I can't help that," returned the orphan, resolutely; "I won't visit him."
"Mr. Figgins," said Jack, in a voice of deep solemnity, "these Turks are cruel, vindictive, and revengeful. The last Englishman who refused was, by order of the pasha, skinned alive, placed on the sunny side of a wall, and blown to death by flies."
"Surely the Turks are not such barbarians," said Mr. Figgins.
"You'll find they are. They'd think no more of polishing you off than of killing a fly."
If that rascal Jack intended to make poor Mr. Figgins uneasy, he certainly succeeded very well.
Mr. Figgins looked supremely miserable.
"Good night, Mr. Figgins. Think it over."
"I tell you I——"
"Never mind, don't decide too rashly. Pleasant dreams."
"Pleasant dreams," said the orphan. "I shall have the nightmare."
The orphan's pillow was haunted that night by visions of a terrible nature.
He fancied himself in the presence of a turbaned Turk, a powerful pasha, who was sitting cross-legged on an ottoman, smoking a pipe, of endless length, and holding in his hand a drawn sword—a scimitar that looked ready to chop his head off.
Beside this terrible Turk stood five ladies, in baggy trousers, and long veils.
No words were spoken, but instinctively the orphan knew that he had to decide between the scimitar and the quintet of wives—wall-flowers of the pasha's harem.
Silently, in mute horror, the orphan was about to submit to the least of the two
evils, and choose a wife.
Then he awoke suddenly.
What an immense relief it was to find it only a dream after all.
"I don't quite believe that young Harkaway," said the orphan, dubiously; "he is such a dreadful practical joker. But I won't go on shore, nevertheless. It's not very interesting to see these savages, after all; they really are nothing more than savages."
And after a long and tedious time spent in endeavouring to get to sleep again, he dropped off.
But only to dream again about getting very much married.
He slept far into the morning, for his dreams had disturbed him much, and he was tired out.
When he awoke, there was someone knocking at his cabin door.
"Come in."
"It's only me, Mr. Figgins," said a familiar voice.
"Come in, captain."
Captain Deering entered.
"Not up yet, Mr. Figgins?" he said, in surprise. "We've got visitors aboard already."
"Dear me."
"Distinguished visitors. The pasha and his suite."
"You don't say so?" exclaimed the orphan, sitting up.
"Fact, sir," returned the captain. "It must be ten years since I last had the honour of an interview with his excellency."
"You know him, then, Captain Deering?"
"Rather. Been here often. Know every inch of the country," said the captain.
"What sort of a man is the pasha?" said the orphan, thinking of Jack's statement.
"Oh, a decent fellow enough, unless he's riled," was the reply.
"Do you speak the language?" said the orphan.
"Like a native."
"Is he as much married as they say?" demanded Mr. Figgins.
The captain smiled.
"His excellency has a weakness that way; but," he added, in a warning voice,
"you must not make any allusion to that."
"I won't see him," said Mr. Figgins. "I don't intend to visit him."
"But I have come to fetch you to pay your respects."
"Here, on board, in the state saloon."
"Make haste, Mr. Figgins," interrupted Captain Deering. "It is no joke to make a pasha wait. Look alive. I'll come and fetch you in five minutes. Up you get."
And then Captain Deering departed.
Mr. Figgins was sorely perplexed now.
But he arose and began to dress himself as quickly as possible.
"After all," he said to himself, "it is just as well. I should certainly like to see the pasha, and this is a bit of luck, for there's no danger here at any rate, if what that young Harkaway said was true."
He went to the cabin door and shouted out for Tinker.
"He's engaged," answered Captain Deering, who was close by.
"I want him."
"He's away, attending his excellency in the saloon," returned Captain Deering.
"Bogey then."
"Bogey's there too."
"Never mind."
"Are you nearly ready?"
"Look sharp. I wouldn't have his excellency put out of temper for the world; it would be sure to result in the bowstringing of a few of his poor devils of slaves when he got ashore again, and you wouldn't care to have that on your conscience."
Mr. Figgins very hurriedly completed his toilet.
"What a fiend this wretched old bigamist must be," he said to himself. "I'm precious glad that young Harkaway warned me, after all. I might have got into some trouble if I had gone ashore without knowing this."
"Stop," said the captain. "Have you any thing to take his excellency as a present?"
This made the orphan feel somewhat nervous.
It tended to confirm what young Jack had said.
"It is, then, the custom to make presents?" he said.
"What shall I give?"
"Any thing. That's a very nice watch you wear."
"Must I give that?"
"Yes. His excellency is sure to present you with a much richer one—that's Turkish etiquette."
This again corroborated Jack's words.
Yet it was a far more pleasant way of putting it than Jack had thought fit to do.
Mr. Figgins only objected to a present of wives.
Any thing rich in the way of jewellery was quite another matter.
"On entering the presence, you have only to prostrate yourself three times; the third time you work it so that you just touch his excellency's toe with your lips."
"I hope his excellency's boots will be clean."
"His excellency would not insult you by letting you kiss his boot. No boot or stocking does he wear."
Mr. Figgins made an awfully wry face at this.
"Ugh! I don't like the idea of kissing a naked toe."
"You'll soon get used to it," said the captain, cheerfully, "when you've kissed as many pashas' toes as I have. Hold your tongue—here we are."
He pushed open the saloon door and ushered Mr. Figgins into the presence of his excellency.
Before we proceed to describe the orphan's presentation to that arch polygamist, the Turkish pasha, and the remarkable result of that interview, we must look around and see if we are not neglecting any of the characters whose eventful careers we have undertaken to chronicle.
We are losing sight of one at least, who has a very decided claim upon our